Father Hugh Reuben Witzmann, OSB, died on Saturday, March 17, 2012, at the Saint John's Abbey Retirement Center. A vigil prayer service will be held on Thursday, March 22, at 7 p.m. in the abbey church. The Mass of Christian Burial will be on Friday, March 23, 3:30 p.m. in Saint John's Abbey Church with interment in the abbey cemetery.
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Reuben Aloysius Witzmann was born on a farm near Cold Spring, Minnesota, on March 15, 1928, the second of seven children of Benedict and Philomena (Diel) Witzmann. He went to country school near Cold Spring until his eighth grade when he attended Saint Boniface grade school. Reuben entered the novitiate of Saint John's Abbey in 1948, receiving the religious name, Hugh, and professed vows as a Benedictine monk on July 11, 1949. In 1951, Hugh received a BA degree in philosophy and mathematics from Saint John's University, and was ordained a priest on June 4, 1955.
After ordination he taught in the Saint John's Preparatory School and in Saint John's University mathematics department. Father Hugh developed a desire for studying art and enrolled at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he earned an MFA degree in 1963.
Father Hugh became an instructor of art history, sculpture, photography, and design at Saint John's University from 1961-1997. Father Hugh also provided pastoral ministry on weekends in many local parishes and in the Twin Cities.
Father Hugh is survived by brothers, Otto and Bernard; sisters Julia Piechowski, and Sister Clare, OSB, of Saint Benedict's Monastery, Saint Joseph; nephews and nieces, and the community at Saint John's Abbey. He was preceded in death by his brother Milton and sister Josephine. Memorials in honor of Father Hugh may be directed to Saint John's Abbey Health and Retirement Fund.
Published in the St. Cloud Times from March 20 to March 21, 2012